Toe Massachusetts Kersfees verbied het

Toe Massachusetts Kersfees verbied het

Die vrome Puriteine ​​wat in 1630 van Engeland af opgevaar het om die Massachusettsbaaikolonie te vind, het iets wat vir 'n groep vroom Christene verrassend kan lyk - minagting vir Kersfees - saamgebring. In 'n ommekeer van die moderne praktyke, het die Puriteine ​​hul winkels en skole oop gehou en kerke gesluit op Kersfees, 'n vakansie wat sommige as 'Foolstide' gedink het.

Nadat die Puriteine ​​in Engeland koning Charles I in 1647 omvergewerp het, was Kersfees te verbied onder hul eerste sake nadat hulle die kop van die monarg afgesny het. Die parlement het besluit dat 25 Desember eerder 'n dag van "vas en vernedering" moet wees vir Engelsmanne om verantwoording te doen vir hul sondes. Die Puriteine ​​van New England volg uiteindelik die leiding van diegene in die ou Engeland, en in 1659 het die Algemene Hof van die Massachusettsbaaikolonie 'n kriminele oortreding gemaak om die vakansie in die openbaar te vier en verklaar dat 'elkeen wat op 'n dag soos Kersfees gehou word, gevind word of iets dergeliks, hetsy deur arbeid, feestyd of op 'n ander manier te dwing ”is 'n boete van 5 sjieling opgelê.

Waarom het die Puriteine ​​Kersfees verafsku? Stephen Nissenbaum, skrywer van Die stryd om Kersfees, sê dit was deels as gevolg van teologie en deels as gevolg van die woelige vieringe wat die vakansie in die 1600's gemerk het.

In hul streng interpretasie van die Bybel, het die Puriteine ​​opgemerk dat daar geen skriftuurlike basis is om Kersfees te herdenk nie. "Die Puriteine ​​het 'n samelewing probeer bestuur waarin wetgewing niks sou oortree wat die Bybel sê nie, en daar word nêrens in die Bybel melding gemaak van die viering van die geboorte nie," sê Nissenbaum. Die Puriteine ​​het opgemerk dat die Skrif nie 'n seisoen, laat staan ​​'n enkele dag, noem wat die geboorte van Jesus genoem het nie.

LEES MEER: Hoe was Kersfees in die kolonies?

Nog erger vir die Puriteine ​​was die heidense wortels van Kersfees. Eers in die vierde eeu nC het die kerk in Rome die viering van die geboorte op 25 Desember verorden, en dit is gedoen deur die kooptering van bestaande heidense vieringe, soos Saturnalia, 'n antieke Romeinse vakansie van ligte gemerk met drink en fees wat saamgeval het met die wintersonstilstand. Die bekende Puriteinse predikant, Growme Mather, het geskryf dat Kersfees op 25 Desember plaasgevind het nie omdat “Christus in daardie maand gebore is nie, maar omdat die Saturnalia van die heidene destyds in Rome gehou is en dat hulle bereid was om die heidense vakansiedae in Christelike […] dié]. ” Volgens Nissenbaum, 'het Puriteine ​​geglo dat Kersfees eintlik maar net 'n heidense gewoonte was wat die Katolieke oorgeneem het sonder dat daar 'n Bybelse grondslag daarvoor was. Die vakansie het alles te doen gehad met die tyd van die jaar, die sonstilstand en Saturnalia en niks met die Christendom te doen nie. ”

Die heidense manier waarop Kersfees gevier is, het die Puriteine ​​selfs meer gepla as die onderliggende teologie. “Mense oneer Christus meer in die twaalf dae van Kersfees as in al die twaalf maande daarna”, het die 16de-eeuse predikant Hugh Latimer geskryf. Kersfees in die 1600's was skaars 'n stil nag, laat staan ​​nog 'n heilige nag. Kersfeesgangers, wat meer gepas was vir 'n woelige lente -vakansie as 'n heilige geleentheid, het die vakansie as 'n verskoning gebruik om te smul, te drink, dobbelstene te speel en kaartspeletjies te beoefen.

In 'n Yuletide-draai oor trick-or-treat, mans geklee as vroue, en omgekeerd, en het van deur tot deur gegaan om kos of geld te eis in ruil vir liedere of kerswense. "Groepe van meestal jongmense en vakleerlinge sou van huis tot huis gaan en eis dat die deure van welvarende mense vir hulle oopgaan," sê Nissenbaum. 'Hulle het gevoel dat hulle die reg het om die huise van die rykes binne te gaan en hul kos en drank van hoë gehalte te eis-nie skraal uitdeelstukke nie, maar die goed wat welvarende mense aan hul eie gesinne sou bedien. Diegene wat nie nagekom het nie, kan met vandalisme of geweld begroet word.

Selfs nadat die openbare herdenking van Kersfees weer wettig was in Engeland na die herstel van die monargie in 1660, het die verbod op Yuletide vir 'n hele generasie stewig op die boeke gebly. Alhoewel dit in die openbaar verbied is, het die viering van Kersfees in privaat huise plaasgevind, veral in die vissersdorpe verder van die sentrum van die Puriteinse mag in Boston wat volgens Nissenbaum "berug was vir godsdienstigheid, sterk drank en los seksuele aktiwiteite."

In sy navorsing het Nissenbaum geen rekords gevind van enige vervolging ingevolge die 1659 -wet nie. 'Dit was nie die geheime polisie wat almal agtervolg het nie,' sê hy. 'Dit is duidelik uit die bewoording van die verbod dat die Puriteine ​​nie regtig daarop gemik was om die vakansie op 'n stil manier privaat te vier nie. Dit was bedoel om siektes te voorkom. ”

Die verbod op openbare kersvieringe was uniek vir Massachusetts, en onder die bewind van koning Charles II het die politieke druk van die vaderland geleidelik toegeneem dat die puriteinse leiers van die kolonie hul onverdraagsame wette verslap of hul koninklike handves kan verloor. In 1681 het die Massachusettsbaaikolonie onwillig sy mees gruwelike wette, insluitend die verbod op Kersfees, herroep.

Vyandigheid teenoor die openbare viering van Kersfees het egter nog jare in Massachusetts gebly. Toe die nuut aangestelde koninklike goewerneur sir Edmund Andros in 1686 die godsdienstige dienste van Kersdag in die stadhuis van Boston bywoon, het hy gebid en gesange gesing terwyl hy omring was deur Redcoats wat bewaak het teen moontlike gewelddadige protesoptredes. Tot ver in die 1800's het besighede en skole in Massachusetts op 25 Desember oop gebly terwyl baie kerke gesluit gebly het. Eers in 1856 het Kersfees - saam met Washington se verjaardag en die vierde Julie - uiteindelik 'n openbare vakansiedag in Massachusetts geword.


Toe Amerikaners Kersfees verbied het

Vandag lyk Kersfees net so Amerikaans soos appeltert, maar die oorspronklike setlaars van die land het die vakansie verafsku. Godsdienstige pelgrims wat in die vroeë 17de eeu in Noord -Amerika aangekom het, het geëis dat burgers op 25 Desember werk en alle vreugdes stilhou - en uiteindelik het hulle Kersfees heeltemal verbied.

Waarom was hierdie New Englanders sulke grinnik? Eerstens, hulle hou nie van die viering van Kersfees nie - wat hulle die naam 'Foolstide' genoem het - omdat hulle die viering in die algemeen nie gehou het nie. Puriteine ​​was 'n hardwerkende lot en het daarop gewys dat behalwe die sabbat, die Bybel niks gesê het oor rus nie, insluitend die geboortedatum van Jesus van Nasaret.

Verder het die Bybel niks gesê oor watter dag Christus gebore is nie. (Soos geskiedskrywer Stephen Nissenbaum verduidelik: "Puriteine ​​het graag gesê dat as God bedoel het dat die herdenking van die geboorte gehou sou word, Hy beslis 'n aanduiding sou gegee het wanneer die herdenking plaasvind.") 25 Desember was net soos enige ander anderdag vir Christene tot in die 4de eeu, toe pous Julius I die Roman Saturnalia -fees tot 'n Christelike viering herskep. Binnekort het huls, kerse en ander heidense elemente in die middel van die winter oorgegaan in Kersfeesvlekke. New England -leiers het verwag dat hul burgers die Bybel sou volg, nie die pous nie.

Byvoorbeeld, op Kersdag, 1621, het die goewerneur van Plymouth, William Bradford, 'n groep vrolike makkers teëgekom wat 'stoelbal' speel-'n soort koloniale weergawe van bofbal-en geëis dat baie van hulle weer aan die werk moet gaan. Uiteindelik, in 1659, het die Algemene Hof van die Massachusetts Bay Colony 'n wet uitgevaardig wat Kersfeesviering geheel en al verbied. Daarin word gesê dat 'n boete van vyf sjielings beboet word om te voorkom dat 'versteuring ... tot groot oneer van God en aanstoot van ander' die viering van die vakansie 'hetsy deur arbeid, feestyd of op enige ander manier' te vier.

Alhoewel hierdie uitspraak teen Kersfees dekades lank die wet van die land sou wees, na die herstel van Charles II as heerser van Engeland, het die invloed van die voor-Kersfees-kroon spoedig in die kolonies toegeneem. In 1681 is wette wat die vakansie verbied, herroep (alhoewel vasberade Puriteine ​​nog dekades lank teen Kersfeesviering gestry het). In 1686 het die nuut aangestelde royalistiese goewerneur van die Dominion of New England, Edmund Andros, op Kersdag winkels gesluit en 'n vakansiediens geborg - hoewel plaaslike protes dit noodsaaklik maak dat hy deur troepe daarheen vergesel word.

Protesoptredes van Kersvieringe het voortgegaan, maar het meer verskuif van protes teen die viering van die vakansie na die manier waarop dit gevier is. Kerspartytjies word al lank gekenmerk deur te veel drank en kos te drink, die strate te speel met musiek, luidrugtige sang en veeleisende aalmoese. Dit was 'n oorskot van die na-oesseisoen, toe min werk oor was en baie beskikbaar was om te drink en te eet. Dit was 'n geritualiseerde wanorde wat oor eeue ontwikkel is voordat dit deur die kerk aangeneem en aangepas is, en die hele ding het die rigiede Puriteine ​​in opstand gebring.

Die predikant van Boston, Cotton Mather, het in 1712 vir sy gemeente gepreek oor hoe “die Fees van Christus se geboorte in Reveling, Dicing, Carding, Masking en in all Licentious Liberty deurgebring word… deur Mad Mirth, deur lank te eet, deur hard te drink, deur lewd Gaming, deur onbeskofte Reveling. ” Omtrent dieselfde tyd het Anglikaanse vieringe in die kolonies egter "meer Kersfeesbewaarders begin lok, ondanks die minagting en vyandige prediking van die Puriteinsgesinde", skryf historikus Gerry Bowler in sy nuwe boek, Kersfees in die kruishare.

Hierdie debat verby hoe om Kersfees te vier sou voortduur tot in die volgende eeu en sou eers opgelos wees voordat 'n groep skrywers, digters en intellektuele-manne soos mede-stigter van die New York Historical Society John Pintard en 'A Visit from St. Nicholas' digter Clement Clarke Moore- het gehelp om die viering van die vakansie van die strate na die huis te skuif. Maar die verdienste van die viering van die dag van Christus se geboorte sou in die VSA nie weer in twyfel getrek word nie.

In 1836 word Alabama die eerste staat wat dit as 'n openbare vakansiedag verklaar het, en teen 1870 noem president Ulysses S. Grant dit 'n federale vakansiedag, deels as 'n poging om die breuk tussen Noord en Suid na die burgeroorlog te genees. Teen daardie tyd was daar geen terugkeer nie. In die stryd tussen puritanisme en Kersviering het laasgenoemde 'n beslissende oorwinning behaal.


Toe Boston Kersfees verbied

Hierdie scenario kom eintlik uit die 17de-eeuse Boston, waar Kersfees in die 1600's meer as twee dekades lank verbied is. Dit is reg - van 1659 tot 1681 was dit amptelik onwettig om Kersfees in Boston te vier deur die dag af te neem van die werk, om fees te vier of op 'n ander manier te vier.

Diegene wat oortree het, is met 'n boete van vyf sjielings beboet - waarvan die huidige geskiedkundiges presies die huidige waarde bespreek - maar dit is genoeg om te sê dat dit destyds 'n ongelooflike skerp boete was!

Wat gee Boston-inwoners van die 16de eeu dan? Het historici sedertdien ontdek dat die harte van hierdie koloniale grynslae twee groottes te klein was?

Of is daar 'n meer genuanseerde, boeiende historiese verklaring? Natuurlik, daar is!

"Kersfees is so 200 v.C."

Om die sosiale en politieke klimaat in Engeland en haar kolonies in die 1600's te verstaan, is die sleutel om uit te vind waarom Kersfees in die eerste plek verbied is. Op daardie tydstip in die geskiedenis was die meerderheid van die bevolking van Boston Puritein. Die Puriteine ​​het die tradisies van die Rooms -Katolieke Kerk verwerp en konstant gedreig teen die Engelse Kerk omdat hulle op afstand katolieke gebruike aangeneem het.

Die uiters konserwatiewe beginsels van Puritanisme het meer as 'n paar redes vir Bostoniste opgelewer om Kersfees te verag:

Dit was nie eintlik die verjaardag van Jesus nie - 25 Desember is eers deur pous Julius I in die 4de eeu nC deur die pous verklaar. Maar in elk geval, die Puriteine ​​het alles oor die Skrif gegaan. Volgens hulle was daar nêrens in die Skrif wat gesê het om 25 Desember as die geboorte van Jesus te vier nie, sodat hulle dit nie nodig gehad het nie.

Kersfees was te heidens: Nie net was die waarneming van Kersfees uit Bybelse tekste weggelaat nie, maar die datum van 25 Desember was beslis 'n godslasterlike datum: Julius I het waarskynlik 25 Desember gekies om die aanneming van die Christelike vakansie te bespoedig. Dit val nou saam met 'n reeds gevierde Romeinse vakansie, Saturnalia-'n viering gevul met hewige partytjies en dronk wangedrag. Puriteine ​​was altyd vinnig (en gewoonlik korrek) om die heidense onderbou van Katolisisme uit te lig.

Partytjie was on-Puriteins: Puriteine ​​het veral probleme gehad met wilde gedrag wat veroorsaak word deur alkohol en vraatsug. Konserwatiewes in Engeland en die kolonies het hulself beywer teen die tradisie van "seil" in Kersfees, waarin die laer klasse deur-tot-huis gaan om kos en drank by hul ryker eweknieë te vra in ruil vir hul goeie gesondheid. As hulle geweier word, sal die gashere baie onheil of selfs geweld ly. Interessant genoeg het hierdie debat aanleiding gegee tot Kersvader in Engeland. Voorstanders van Kersvreugde het dikwels hierdie verpersoonliking aangewend, 'n saggeaarde, vrolike ou man wat 'n 'goeie maar nie te goeie' tyd gehad het tydens die vakansie nie.

Rebellie teen Engeland: Ja, die koloniste het al meer as 100 jaar voor die Amerikaanse rewolusie met die Engelse regering bots. New Englanders het geglo dat die kroon al te gereeld in hul sake ingemeng het, en Kersfees was nog 'n voorbeeld. Koloniste het die viering van Kersfees beskou as 'n uitbreiding van Engelse inmenging in koloniale aangeleenthede en 'n belediging vir hul vryheid en onafhanklikheid. In werklikheid het Bostoners uiteindelik in opstand gekom en probeer om 'n Engelse goewerneur omver te werp wat winkels en skole gedwing het om Kersfees in 1686 te sluit.

Openbare kennisgewing wat Kersfees in Boston verbied.

Kersfees herstel, soort van

U sou dink dat so 'n verbod met uitroepe van die algemene bevolking gepaard gaan, maar dit was aanvanklik nie die geval nie. Die meeste Bostoniërs het heelhartig met die verbod saamgestem, en was in werklikheid verheug oor die werk op Kersdag as 'n daad van verset teen inmenging van buitelandse regerings en mededingende Christelike sektes.

Terwyl die Engelse regering gesukkel het om die Puriteinse Nieu-Engeland te beheer, het die Kroon Engelsvriendelike goewerneurs geïnstalleer wat wette wat die Engelse gebruike ondersteun, ingestel het. Die verbod op Kersfees is uiteindelik in 1681 opgehef, maar die Puriteine ​​het voortgegaan om teen die vakansie saam te stem - baie bronne vertel dat Puriteine ​​op Kersfees deur die strate marsjeer en selfs skree: "No Christmas! No Christmas!" goed nadat die verbod opgehef is.

Hierdie sosiale verbod op Kersfees het nie regtig afgeneem nie, selfs toe nie-Puriteine ​​na Boston immigreer. Skole was op Kersdag so laat as 1870 amptelik oop, met strawwe strawwe vir kinders wat oorgeslaan het.

Elders, buite die Noordoos-oorheersde Puritein, is Kersfees wyer gevier. Koloniste in Jamestown het vroeg in hul aankoms in Virginia 'n suksesvolle viering opgemerk, en ander state in die VSA het Kersfees in die vroeë 1800's as 'n amptelike vakansiedag erken.

In 1870 was Ulysses S. Grant die eerste president wat Kersfees as 'n nasionale vakansiedag verklaar het, en danksy Charles Dickens se 'A Christmas Carol' beleef die vakansie 'n renaissance, waarvan ons die vrugte geniet tot vandag toe.


Menige boek, tydskrif, toneelstuk, film is in Boston verbied. Maar Kersfees?

Ja, Virginia, Kersfees is verbied in Boston. Op 11 Mei 1659 het die wetgewer van die Massachusetts Bay Colony die volgende uitgevaardig: 'Ter voorkoming van versteurings wat op verskillende plekke in hierdie jurisdiksie ontstaan, vanweë sommige wat nog steeds sulke feeste waarneem wat bygelowig in ander lande gehou is, tot die groot oneer van God & amp; oortreding betaal vir elke oortreding vyf sjielings as 'n boete aan die graafskap. "

Hierdie besluit is meer as 'n generasie ná die landing van die Pelgrims aangeneem, maar dit was bloot 'n wettige uitdrukking van die gesindheid wat hulle saamgebring het op die Mayflower . William Bradford's Geskiedenis van Plymouth Plantation teken op dat in 1621, kort na die aankoms van 'n nuwe kontingent koloniste, 'die dag toe Chrismasday genoem word, het die goewerneur hulle laat kalmeer om te werk, (soos gebruik is), maar die meeste van hierdie nuwe onderneming verskoon hulle self en het gesê dat dit teen hul gewete was om op daardie dag te werk. Die regering het hulle dus meegedeel dat as hy dit van gewete maak, hy hulle sou spaar totdat hulle beter ingelig was. ... [Later] het hy hulle in die streete aangetref terwyl hulle speel, openlik 'n paar met die bal en 'n paar op 'n krukbal, en baie soos sport. En hy het na hulle toe gegaan en hulle werktuie weggeneem en dit teen sy gewete gegooi, dat hulle moes speel en ander moes werk. As hulle die toewyding daarvan toegewy het, laat hulle dan hul huise onderhou, maar daar mag geen speletjies of plesier in die strate wees nie. Sedertdien is niks so probeer nie, ten minste openlik. ”

Die vreugdelose wet van 1659 het twee en twintig jaar op die boeke gebly. Toe dit in 1681 herroep word, was dit minder 'n oorwinning vir die gees van Kersfees as vir die koning van Engeland: Karel II en sy koninklike kommissarisse was vasbeslote om die wette van die kolonie te laat ooreenstem met die van Engeland.

Alhoewel dit nie meer onwettig was nie, was Kersfees nog lank nie gewild onder die Puriteine ​​nie. Hulle dowwe siening van wat hulle as heidense onthaal of, as alternatief, papistiese afgodery beskou het, was so algemeen dat Kersfees in New England meer as honderd jaar later 'n saai verhouding was in vergelyking met die feestelike vakansie in New York en suidwaarts. Edward Everett Hale, skrywer van die beroemde roman Die man sonder 'n land , het in 1889 opgemerk: 'Toe ek 'n skoolseun was, het ek altyd op Kersdag skoolgegaan, en ek dink al die ander seuns in die stad het dit gedoen. Terwyl ons huis toe gaan en die King's Chapel verbygaan op Adam en Eva se dag, wat die 24ste is, sien ons hoe die manne hemlock dra vir die versierings. Maar dit was die enigste openbare aanduiding dat enige vakansie nader kom. ”

King's Chapel was die eerste biskoplike kerk van Boston, waar kersdienste jaarliks ​​gehou is sedert die bou daarvan teen die einde van die sewentiende eeu. Die dienste was ongetwyfeld baie waardig, maar tog het die Kersfeesblare, die musiek en die aangesteekte kerse 'n vakansie -aantrekkingskrag gehad, en sommige van Boston se jong Puriteine ​​is op 'n dwaalspoor gebring. Met 'n mengsel van konsternasie en trots, het regter Samuel Sewall op Kersdag, 1697, in sy dagboek opgemerk: "Joseph [sy seun] vertel my dat hoewel die meeste seuns na die kerk gegaan het, maar hy het nie gegaan nie."

Teen 1711 het dinge heeltemal handuit geruk, ten minste volgens die standaarde van sulke Puriteinse goddelike mense soos Cotton Mather. 'Ek hoor van 'n aantal jongmense van beide geslagte', het hy daardie jaar geskryf, 'wat baie van hulle behoort aan my kudde, wat die afgelope week op die Kersnag gehad het, 'n Frolick, 'n feestelike fees en 'n bal , wat hul korrupsie ontdek en die neiging het om hulle nog meer te korrupteer. ”

Korrupsie of nie, die viering van Kersfees het in New England stewig opgang gemaak. In die negentiende eeu, herhaalde publikasie van onmiddellike gunstelinge soos Washington Irving se verslag oor Kersfees in Bracebridge Hall, Charles Dickens se N Kersfees liedjie , en Clement Moore se "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" het brandstof by die yule -log gevoeg, en in 1856 kan Henry Wadsworth Longfellow skryf: "Ons is in 'n oorgangstoestand oor Kersfees hier in New England. Die ou Puriteinse gevoel verhinder dat dit 'n vrolike, hartlike vakansie kan wees, maar dit maak dit elke jaar meer so. " In dieselfde jaar het die Massachusetts -wetgewer uiteindelik toegegee en Kersfees 'n wettige vakansie gemaak.

Vandag is Kersfees natuurlik in Boston soos Kersfees in enige ander Amerikaanse stad. Daar is kersdienste in die kerke, kersbome wat aangesteek word in byna elke huis, groepe versorgers wat in die strate in die buurt sing, en as hulle 'n bietjie onbedagsaam sing - en menigtes wanhopige Kersfeeswinkels wat mekaar in 'n bui laat waai, laat wonder of die Puriteine ​​het miskien nie iets gehad nie.


'N Geskiedenis van die ‘ -oorlog met Kersfees ’

Alhoewel dit nooit 'n amptelike plan van die Republikeinse Party -platform was nie, het Donald Trump tydens die presidensiële verkiesingsveldtog in 2016 herhaaldelik belowe om die vakansiegroete "Geseënde Kersfees" terug te bring - wat, om hom te hoor vertel, amper uitgewis is deur die kragte van politieke korrektheid. As president herhaal Trump die belofte in Oktober 2017 op die Value Voters Summit in Washington, DC, en verklaar: "Ons sê weer 'Merry Christmas'."

Sonder om die uitdrukking 'Oorlog teen Kersfees' te gebruik, het Trump in wese 'n strydlyn getrek in 'n eeu oue debat wat nie net oor die 25ste Desember handel nie, maar 'n fundamentele meningsverskil oor die vraag of die Verenigde State 'n sekulêre of 'n Christelike land is.

Die voormalige mediapersoonlikheid van Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, die berugste alarm-op-Kersfees-alarmis van die afgelope twee dekades, het tydens 'n televisie-uitsending in 2004 sy sameswering weergawe van die omstredenheid voorgehou:

Regoor die land neem Kersfees flake. In Denver die afgelope naweek is geen godsdienstige dryf in die vakansieparade daar toegelaat nie. In New York het burgemeester Bloomberg die vakansieboom onthul en geen Christelike kerssimbole word in die openbare skole toegelaat nie. Die gefederateerde afdelingswinkels, Macy's, het die Kersfeesgroet, “Merry Christmas”, laat vaar.

Al hierdie antichristelike dinge is absurd en kan selfs 'n vooroordeel wees. Maar die werklike rede waarom dit gebeur, het min te doen met Kersfees en alles wat met georganiseerde godsdiens te doen het.

Sekulêre progressiewe besef dat Amerika soos dit nou is, nooit homoseksuele huwelike, gedeeltelike geboorte aborsie, genadedood, wettige dwelms, herverdeling van inkomste deur belasting, en vele ander progressiewe visies as gevolg van godsdienstige opposisie sal goedkeur nie.

Maar as die sekulariste godsdiens in die openbare arena kan vernietig, is die dapper nuwe progressiewe wêreld moontlik. Dit is wat in Kanada gebeur het.

Maar Trump en O'Reilly is beswaarlik die eerstes wat kommer uitspreek dat een of ander kwaadaardige sosiale mag - of dit nou politieke korrektheid is, sekulêre progressiewe, kommuniste, demokrate, "die internasionale Jood" of al die bogenoemde - daarop ingestel is om die Christendom te vernietig (en daarmee, Amerika self) via 'n reeks slinkse, inkrementele stappe wat begin met die afgradering van Kersfees na 'n ongenoemde vakansie.

"Verlede Kersfees het die meeste mense dit moeilik gevind om Kerskaartjies te vind wat op enige manier aandui dat Kersfees iemand se geboorte herdenk," skryf Henry Ford in 1921, meer as 80 jaar voordat Bill O'Reilly soortgelyke klagtes op Fox News sou uitspreek.

Die ikoniese Amerikaanse sakemagnaat en antisemiet het in die 1920's 'n reeks pamflette uitgegee (versamel onder die titel Die internasionale Jood: die wêreld se grootste probleem) Amerikaanse Jode beskuldig van, onder talle ander misdade, 'n sameswering om 'n kersviering op openbare plekke te "afskaf":

Die Jode verskil nie net van die Christelike leer nie - dit is hulle volmaakte reg, en niemand durf dit bevraagteken nie - maar hulle probeer dit ook inmeng. Dit is nie godsdienstige verdraagsaamheid te midde van godsdiensverskil nie, maar godsdienstige aanval wat hulle verkondig en beoefen. Die hele verslag van Joodse opposisie teen Kersfees, Paasfees en sekere patriotiese liedere toon dit.

Wat Ford 'Joodse opposisie teen Kersfees' genoem het, het eintlik neergekom op 'n paar gevalle van Joodse leiers wat die onderrig van Christendom in openbare skole uitgedaag het - soos toe 'n massaboek van 'n skool in Massachusetts gelos is en aanvanklik ingestem is om alle verwysings na Jesus uit die klaskamer te verwyder ' Kersoefeninge ”in 1912. Joodse groepe het ook die Bybellesings in die klas uitgedaag, wat destyds nie ongewoon was nie. Die groepe het egter nie teen die Christendom self geargumenteer nie, maar eerder 'n eerste wysiging -uitdaging geloods om prositisering in openbare skole te beoefen.

Tog het Ford so ver gegaan as om die Joodse eienaars van sommige van die groot afdelingswinkels in Amerika ("die Levys en die Isaacs en die Goldsteins en die Silvermans") van "wins" te beskuldig van die verkoop van Kersartikels terwyl hulle terselfdertyd saamgesweer het om die godsdienstige betekenis van die vakansie ondermyn.

Kersfees het in die vyftigerjare weer 'n slagveld geword in die stryd om Amerika se identiteit, toe 'n toename in godsdienstigheid na die Tweede Wêreldoorlog sy hoogtepunt bereik het. 'N 1997 -geskiedenis van die tydperk bevat 'n paar verstommende statistieke oor die neiging:

Op 'n tipiese Sondagoggend in die tydperk 1955-58 het byna die helfte van alle Amerikaners kerk toe gegaan-die hoogste persentasie in die Amerikaanse geskiedenis. Gedurende die vyftigerjare het die landswye lidmaatskap van die kerk vinniger toegeneem as die bevolking, van 57 persent van die Amerikaanse bevolking in 1950 tot 63,3 persent in 1960.

'N Verslag van 1954 in Vrouedrag daagliks verwys na ontwikkelings wat dui op 'n landwye 'geestelike neiging' in kleinhandelsaanbiedings:

Die versieringskomitee vir Kersfeesstraat van die Waterloo [Iowa] sakekamer het die leiding van baie ander dorpe in Iowa gevolg deur 'Christus terug in Kersfees' te plaas. Om hierdie idee uit te druk, was 'n Geboorte -toneel in Soldiers and Sailors Park hier. Dit word snags verlig. 'N 46-duim-aluminiumster verskyn bo die 15 lewensgrootte figure op die toneel.

Die godsdienstige herlewing na die Tweede Wêreldoorlog het ook 'n invloed op die kurrikula van openbare skole gehad. 'N Resolusie van 1955 wat deur die Nasionale Raad van die Kerke van Christus (wat 30 Protestantse denominasies verteenwoordig) aangeneem het, het uitdruklik gevra dat godsdienstige leerstellings in die klaskamers opgeneem moet word:

Daar word verwag dat [openbare skole] sal leer dat godsdiens 'n noodsaaklike aspek van ons nasionale erfenis en kultuur is, dat hierdie volk onder die heerskappy van God bestaan ​​en dat ons morele en etiese waardes berus op godsdienstige gronde en sanksies. Om anders te doen sou wees om die geskiedenis te verdraai.

Sommige Amerikaners was ontsteld oor hierdie laaste ontwikkeling, waaronder Jules Cohen, nasionale koördineerder van die prominente Joodse organisasie, die National Community Relations Advisory Council, wat in 1957 gewaarsku het dat 'die beginsel van skeiding van kerk en staat uit baie oorde aangeval word' en op verskillende maniere. ”

Die terugslag teen toenemende godsdienstigheid was te sien in 'n kontroversie van 1957 oor die oprigting van 'n geboorteplek op 'n openbare hoërskool in Ossining, New York. Nadat die onderwysraad die voorstel vir die vertoning goedgekeur het, het amptenare protesbriewe van plaaslike inwoners ontvang waarin aangevoer word dat dit die eerste wysiging sou oortree. Die raad het heroorweeg en uiteindelik hul goedkeuring herroep. Hulle is op hul beurt beskuldig van 'onverdraagsaamheid' in 'n bekende siklus. Rooi boek destyds berig:

Binne 'n week het die vraag of 'n godsdienstige uitstalling behoorlik op openbare skole geleë is, ontaard in 'n kwaai gemeenskapswroeging. Die Crèche -komitee het sterk daarop aangedring dat die Onderwysraad 'n openbare vergadering hou om die vraag te heropen. Ds Frank Klausman, van die kerk in Ossining Heights, het die lede van die Onderwysraad “toegelaat dat hulle deur sommige gedwing word en in die naam van verdraagsaamheid’ n daad van onverdraagsaamheid gepleeg het ”.

Hierdie tipe stryd het alarmiste laat ontstaan, veral die verregse John Birch Society, wie se pamflet “There Goes Christmas ?!” gewaarsku:

Een van die tegnieke wat nou deur die Rooies toegepas word om die pilaar van godsdiens in ons land te verswak, is die strewe om Christus uit Kersfees te verwyder - om die gebeurtenis van sy godsdienstige betekenis te ontken. ... Die VN -fanatici het hul aanranding op Kersfees in 1958 begin, maar te laat om baie ver te kom voordat die heilige dag op hande was. Hulle is egter reeds op hierdie oomblik besig met pogings om die Kersseisoen van 1959 met hul hoogdrukpropaganda te vergiftig. Wat hulle nou oor die Amerikaanse volk wil plaas, is eenvoudig: Afdelingswinkels in die hele land moet VN -simbole en embleme as kersversierings gebruik.

Die 1970's - 1990's

Die burgerregte en anti-oorlogsbewegings van die sestigerjare het die konserwatisme van die vyftigerjare 'n direkte uitdaging gebied, wat die weg gebaan het vir breër sosiale veranderinge (en reaksies op die veranderinge) oor die komende dekades. In die 70's en 80's het 'n verskuiwing plaasgevind na 'n groter erkenning en sensitiwiteit vir die toenemende etniese en godsdienstige diversiteit van Amerikaners. Sekularisme was ook aan die toeneem, soos weerspieël word in briewe aan koerantredakteurs wat in die middel van die 80's gekla het, net soos Henry Ford in die 20's gedoen het dat 'Geseënde Kersfees' ook 'gelukkige vakansiedae' meegee, groot afdelingswinkels het hul wins maksimaal gemaak deur middel van seisoenale advertensies.

Die kulturele verandering het ook bereik in openbare skole, wat toenemend uiteenlopende studentegroepe beleef het, terwyl hofuitsprake die skeiding van kerk en staat herbevestig het dat die godsdiens in die klaskamer nie voorkeur geniet nie. Die Los Angeles Times het die oorgangsmoment vasgevang in 'n artikel uit 1984:

Toe die Laerskool Donaulaan 25 jaar gelede sy eerste vakansieprogram aanbied, het dit alles so maklik gelyk.

Die meeste studente was Anglo en Christen, en die toon van die tye het bepaal dat diegene wat nie Kersfees gevier het nie, hul bes sou doen om by die meerderheid in te skakel.

Maar tye en verander, en so ook Donau. Die skool word nou deur Latino's, Asiërs, Christene en Jode bygewoon. Sommige studente reis na die Granada Hills -kampus vanuit die sentrale Los Angeles -buurte waar min Engels gepraat word en kersvieringe nie visioene van suikerpruime insluit nie. En die gevoelens van die 1980's stel dat die kulturele tradisies van alle etniese groepe gelyke tyd in die klas verdien.

Die Hooggeregshof het gedurende die dekade 'n aktiewe rol gespeel in die sekularisering van openbare ruimtes. In 1980 het die hof beslis dat die plasing van die Tien Gebooie in openbare skole ongrondwetlik is. In 1985 het dit bevind dat die statuut van 'moment van stilte' in Alabama ongrondwetlik bevooroordeeld was ten gunste van gebed. 'N Uitspraak uit 1987 het die onderrig van' skeppingswetenskap 'saam met evolusie verbied. En, voor Kersfees, besluit die hof in 1989 (in Allegheny County v. ACLU) dat dit ongrondwetlik is om 'n kerststal op openbare eiendom op te rig.

Ironies genoeg het hierdie veranderinge plaasgevind te midde van 'n herlewing van konserwatisme wat aangedui is deur die verkiesing van Ronald Reagan tot die presidentskap in 1980 en die opkoms van die evangeliese Christelike reg, wat tot in die 1990's en 2000's voortgeduur het. Die presidentskap van Bill Clinton, 'n sosiaal-progressiewe demokraat wat in 1992 verkies is, het die presidensie van Amerika vir twee dae net vererger. Opposition grew to the secularization that had been on the rise since the 1960s.

2000 en verder

As far as we know, the term “War on Christmas” was coined by conservative author Peter Brimelow, whose race-based critique of U.S. immigration policy, Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster (Harper Perennial, 1995), in many ways prefigured the white nationalist political movement of today.

In 1999, Brimelow launched the polemical web site VDARE.com (named after Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas), which, besides being condemned by the Anti-Defamation League for its “racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant” postings, would become ground zero in the battle to “save” Christmas. Brimelow’s December 2000 post containing the first known mention of a “War on Christmas” warned readers that said war was “part of the struggle to abolish America.”

Part of Brimelow’s schtick was publishing annual compilations of the most egregious “attacks” on Christmas, citing the same kinds of examples Bill O’Reilly would later cite in his broadcasts:

“The City Manager in Eugene, OR has banned Christmas trees on city property. Reportedly he consulted with the People for the American Way and with the ACLU (usual suspects) and got their wholehearted support.”

“My children attend a private CATHOLIC school [in Shreveport, LA]. They have just been informed that ‘Happy Holidays’ will replace ‘Merry Christmas’ since the latter is ‘offensive’ to non-Christians. A parochial school, no less. P.S. this is the same school, which banned anything `Confederate` so as not to ‘insult’ the (literally) one or two blacks in the entire school.”

“The tipping point in the obliteration of Christmas came, I think, in the first year of the Clinton Administration. While everyone else was absorbed in the ‘gays in the military’ flap, I noted that the United States Postal Service had adopted the slogan, ‘We deliver for Yule.’ Since then, no Christmas from the USPS or, so far as I can tell, anything else related to the federal government.”

In 2004, the same year that Bill O’Reilly first declared the War on Christmas a national emergency, a group joined the fray called the Committee to Save Merry Christmas, which, using language not dissimilar to Henry Ford’s, said their purpose was “to protest the fact that big retailers profit from Christmas shopping dollars but refuse to mention the holiday by name.” The organization followed O’Reilly in calling for a boycott of Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and other retail outlets owned by Federated Department Stores to compel them to reinstate the phrase “Merry Christmas” in their holiday presentations and greetings to customers.

The following year, 2005, saw the publication of Fox News contributor John Gibson’s book The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought. Meanwhile, O’Reilly revised and extended his roster of “anti-Christmas” merchants, adding Sears, Kmart, Kohl’s, Target, Walmart, and Costco to the “naughty” list. Christian groups ranging from the American Family Association to the Catholic League joined the retail boycott just as Federated Department Stores, perhaps feeling the heat, reversed course and encouraged employees to start wishing their customers a good, old-fashioned “Merry Christmas” again.

By 2006, nearly all of the retailers in O’Reilly and crew’s gunsights had followed Federated’s lead and announced their intentions to use the word “Christmas” in their holiday greetings. O’Reilly declared victory in the War on Christmas. “You know, we did it last year, we won the war,” he announced on his radio show in December 2006. “Walmart and Macy’s and all the big stores are saying ‘Merry Christmas,’ and they’ve stopped ordering their employees not to say it — most of them.”

Despite the declared victory, O’Reilly went on touting the War on Christmas for years to come (most recently in 2016, months before his abrupt termination from Fox News), regaling his television audience with examples of holiday “political correctness” supposedly tearing apart the social fabric of the country.

Is There Really a War on Christmas?

The evidence suggests there is no actual conspiracy to erase Christmas and destroy American civilization in the process, although some people clearly perceive it to be the case. Belief in a “War on Christmas” seems to go hand-in-hand with the belief that the United States is a fundamentally Christian nation whose social fabric is weakened or torn by religious diversity and secularism.

The fear that Christmas is “under attack” has been a recurring, if not cyclical, phenomenon in the United States of America for the better part of the last century. It tends to flare up when anxieties about immigration, secularization, and other perceived threats to the established social order increase. But these only represent a “war” on the holiday if one sees Christianity, and Christmas in particular, as central to the nation’s identity — and if one sees the use of public space as essential to the religious celebration. After all, since the United States’ founding, there has never been a law preventing the celebration of Christmas in any way in individuals’ homes, churches, or private spaces.

If one sees the United States as a secular nation, one is unlikely to perceive Christmas as under attack — no more so than Yom Kippur, Ramadan, or any other religious tradition that goes largely uncelebrated in public and commercial spaces.

History shows there is a regular ebb and flow of faith and secularism in America, along with inevitable fluctuations in the ethnic and religious makeup of the country. These have contributed to changes in how Christmas is celebrated over time. Such changes have not always been welcomed by all, and have sometimes been seen (or at least presented) as pernicious, but they are not the result of any grand conspiracy.

We would be remiss not to point out that the one and only time Christmas was actually banned on what would later become U.S. soil, it was by Christians.

In 1659, the Puritan lawmakers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony followed the example of their brethren in England by issuing an edict outlawing the observance of Christmas (and other “superstitious” holidays):

For preventing disorders arising in several places within this jurisdiction, by reason of some still observing such festivals as were superstitiously kept in other countries, to the great dishonor of God and offence of others, it is therefore ordered by this Court and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such accountants as aforesaid, every person so offending shall pay of every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county.

Hoekom? Because, as befitted their name, the Puritans found feasting, wassailing, gift giving, and wishing one another a merry Christmas ungodly and sinful (we suspect not even the secularized greeting “Happy holidays” would have been acceptable to this lot).

Despite a 22-year ban on celebrating it (the law was repealed in 1681), Christmas survived unscathed to eventually become the most popular (not to mention durable) holiday celebrated in America.


Christmas banned in Boston!

When Christmas celebrations were banned in Boston, that included wearing “fine clothing” and “feasting.”

BOSTON – Hours of sunlight decrease and temperatures drop as Americans once again reopen the now-yearly debate over what to call this time of year – the Christmas season? The holiday season? December?

Yet few Americans know that this debate, in various forms, arises almost as regularly as the season and dates back to the 17th century and the Pilgrims. Christmas was for a generation in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and for centuries people in Massachusetts went to school and work as usual on most Christmas days.

Many of the English settlers who left the British Isles, some because of religious persecution, to found the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies brought with them a skeptical attitude toward Christmas. These sober-minded Christians questioned the date decreed as the day to celebrate the birth of their Savior.

For one thing, ancient Roman worshippers of the Persian son-god Mithras celebrated his birth on Dec. 25. For another, the day of Christ’s birth was not recognized as Dec. 25 until centuries after his death, when the date was set by papal decree. Because they did not believe that Dec. 25 was an especially Christian day, Puritan leaders opposed celebrating Christmas on that date.

Concern over historical accuracy wasn’t the only reason Puritans said bah-humbug to Christmas. In the 17th century, the Christmas holiday was associated with the customs of the Church of England, the bastion of the religious and political order whose persecution of nonbelievers led many Puritans to flee the Old World and settle what would become New England.

Christmas celebrations in England, which were banned outright for decades in the 17th century, often featured drinking, feasting, and playing games. These activities were exactly the sort of frivolity Puritan leaders opposed. The ascetic sect generally frowned on excess and revelry, preferring more temperate behaviors.

The first Christmas at Plimouth Plantation passed uneventfully, with work on building shelters proceeding like any other day in the weeks after the pilgrims first arrived. But in 1621, Plymouth Governor William Bradford documented an unusual occurrence on the Puritans’ second Christmas in the New World. Writing in his journal, he noted that he had called the men out to work, as he did on every other day, but some recently arrived colonists objected to working Christmas, saying it was a matter of conscience. Bradford said he spared them, “till they were better informed.”

Returning at midday, however, the governor found the men openly playing “barr,” and “stoole-ball, and shuch like sports.” In a righteous rage, Bradford took their “implements, and tould them that was against his conscience, that they should play & others worke.” If it was a matter of devotion, Bradford reprimanded, the truant colonists had better keep to their houses and that there “should be no gameing or revelling in ye streets.”

The journal entry ends on a satisfied note: “Since which time nothing hath been atempted that way, at least openly.”

In May 1659, celebrating Christmas was officially banned in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which was founded in 1630 in what would become Boston. Celebrants risked paying a fine.

A record of the General Court, the colony’s governing body, reads, “. . .it is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof that whosoever shall be found any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way, upon such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shilling as a fine to the county.”

Five shillings is roughly equivalent to $50 in today’s currency.

The Christmas ban ended in 1681, but the holiday spirit in Boston and the rest of New England remained Scrooge-like for more than a century.

Around the time of the Revolutionary War, Christmas celebrations were associated with the British monarchy and shunned in Boston. As late as 1850, New England schools and shops were open on Christmas Day, reflecting lingering puritan influences. Only when Christmas was officially declared a federal holiday in 1870 did New Englanders finally relent in hul massas to the revelry of the season.

This is the time of year to remember what unites us to our past and to honor timeless traditions. As we begin the latest round in the debate over what to call our celebrations this month, Americans are renewing a centuries-old tradition that spans continents. And what better way to celebrate the season?


Was Christmas Illegal in the United States Until 1836?

Advertisements Did the original “War on Christmas” start in the United States?

A Facebook page shared the following meme in December 2018:

The text of the meme read:

Het jy geweet?

Christmas was illegal in the U.S. until 1836 as it was considered an ancient Pagan holiday.

Interspersed with the text were images that appeared to be historical documents supporting the claim. However, no verifiable citations accompanied the post or meme.

As a “fun fact,” the claim was compelling — could Christmas as we know it be such a relatively modern invention? Were appeals to tradition with respect to Christmas made ignorant of a longer history wherein Christmas was an unwelcome intrusion on an otherwise boring winter season? (A 2012 Huffington Post UK piece went further, declaring that Christmas was illegal in the United States until 1907.)

The history of Christmas in the United States — as is the case with many American traditions — is deeply influenced by its many waves of immigration. Its popularity in the early United States seemed to link directly back in part to beliefs and traditions upheld in England:

In 1644 [Oliver Cromwell] enforced an Act of Parliament banning Christmas celebrations. Christmas was regarded by the Puritans as a wasteful festival that threatened core Christian beliefs. Consequently, all activities relating to Christmas, including attending mass, were forbidden. Not surprisingly, the ban was hugely unpopular and many people continued to celebrate Christmas secretly.

The Puritan War on Christmas lasted until 1660. Under the Commonwealth, mince pies, holly and other popular customs fell victim to the spirited Puritan attempt to eradicate every last remnant of merrymaking during the Christmas period … All shops and markets were to stay open throughout the 25th December and anyone caught holding or attending a special Christmas church service would suffer a penalty.

…Cromwell was Lord Protector until his death in 1658, whereby Charles II was enthusiastically welcomed back to England to take the throne as the country’s rightful heir … Once Charles II was restored to the throne, all legislation banning Christmas — enforced from 1642 to 1660 — was dropped and the common people were once again allowed to mark the Twelve Days of Christmas. Old traditions were revived with renewed enthusiasm and Christmas was celebrated throughout the country as both a religious and secular festival.

A date visible in the meme’s text referenced a colonial United States (the Massachusetts Bay Colony), and a year: 1659. If legitimate, that document or reproduction would land squarely in the period in which Puritanical beliefs quashed the celebration of Christmas in England during that time. The Massachusetts Bay Colony, later known as Boston, was established by Puritans who fled their native England to practice a stricter form of their religion in what later became the United States.

By the late 1600s, the Puritan way of life was already in decline, and Puritans geographically remained almost entirely in New England. Christmas fines there were highly localized and not typical, and general English customs were less and less common long before the government made Christmas a holiday:

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

TIME magazine touched on the Puritans’ localized but strong distaste for Christmas merrymaking in an undated listicle:

From 1659 to 1681, showcasing one’s holiday spirit in Boston could cost you a fine of as much as five shillings. That’s right — Christmas used to be illegal. It’s somewhat surprising, then, that the same puritanical minds also created the first American batch of eggnog at Captain John Smith’s 1607 Jamestown settlement. (The word nog comes from the word grog that is, any drink made with rum.) Christmas was so inconsequential in early America that after the Revolutionary War, Congress didn’t even bother taking the day off to celebrate the holiday, deciding instead to hold its first session on Christmas Day, 1789. It took almost a century for Congress to proclaim it a federal holiday.

As far back as the early 1700s, debate continued over the celebration of Christmas, showing that not all Americans abstained from holiday traditions:

Boston minister Cotton Mather preached to his congregation in 1712 about how “[T]he Feast of Christ’s Nativity is spent in Reveling, Dicing, Carding, Masking, and in all Licentious Liberty … by Mad Mirth, by long Eating, by hard Drinking, by lewd Gaming, by rude Reveling.” Around the same time, however, Anglican celebrations in the colonies “began to attract more Christmas-keepers, despite the scorn and hostile preaching of the Puritan-minded,” writes historian Gerry Bowler in his new book, Christmas in the Crosshairs.

This debate over how to celebrate Christmas would continue into the next century and wouldn’t be resolved until a group of writers, poets, and intellectuals—men like New-York Historical Society cofounder John Pintard and “A Visit from St. Nicholas” poet Clement Clarke Moore—helped to move the holiday’s celebration from the streets into the home. But the merits of celebrating the day of Christ’s birth would not be widely called into question in the U.S. again.

For Christmas to be finally legalized in 1836, it would have had to have been illegal across the colonies and then states — which it was not, or at least not for very long:

In the 1800s, Americans’ views on Christmas changed a great deal. One author, Washington Irving, wrote fictitious stories of how Christmas had been celebrated in England before the Puritans took over, and some of these stories caught on in American practices. German immigrants brought with them the practice of placing evergreen branches and trees in home during winter as a reminder of life during hard times. And, Catholic immigrants brought the tradition started by Saint Francis of keeping small nativity scenes in their homes. By the late 1800s, most Americans celebrated Christmas. In 1870, President Grant and Congress declared Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, savior of the world, a national holiday.

So what happened in 1836 to inspire the meme’s claims? It’s widely repeated (although not firmly proved) that Alabama became the first state to officially declare Christmas a holiday:

The celebration of modern Christmas — with traditions of decorating trees, singing carols and giving gifts — has its roots in the South. In 1836, Alabama reportedly became the first to make Christmas a state holiday, according to the History Channel, followed by Louisiana and Arkansas in 1838.

As for the rule which originated in the Massachusetts Bay Colony affecting early Bostonians, it was repealed in more than 150 years earlier (and prior to the founding of the United States of America) in 1681 (not 1836). The state of Massachusetts followed the southern states’ lead in 1856, making Christmas a public holiday.

Like many history facts-based memes, the claim Christmas was illegal in the United States had a tiny grain of truth to it — but it muddled quite a bit of the truth and painted a misleading picture of the history of the holiday in America. Puritans, a small group of early Americans, imposed a fine for Christmas celebrators in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (a law repealed a century and a half earlier than the meme stated). States began declaring Christmas an official public holiday in 1836, and President Ulysses S. Grant declared it a federal holiday in 1870.


Weird laws in Massachusetts

In Boston, duels can be carried out to death on Sunday as long as the governor is present.

It is illegal to take a lion to the movies.

At a wake, mourners may eat no more than three sandwiches.

No gorillas are allowed in the back seat of cars.

In Boston, it is illegal to bathe unless your doctor gives you a prescription. BUT, it’s also illegal not to bathe before going to bed in Boston.

Goatees are illegal unless you obtain and pay for a license to wear your goatee in public.

It is illegal in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts to scare a pigeon.

Christmas has been illegal in Massachusetts since 1659. If you celebrate Christmas, you will be fined five shillings.

In Boston, its illegal to play the fiddle.

Roosters may not go into bakeries.

Defacing a milk carton is punishable by a $10 fine in Massachusetts.

It is illegal to give beer to hospital patients.

False teeth must be removed during sexual intercourse.

Stopping for red lights is not required by law unless they are flashing.

Dogs are forbidden from riding in ambulances.

Tomatoes may not be used in the production of clam chowder.

You may not detonate a nuclear device in the city of Marlboro.

Also in Marlboro, squirt guns are illegal to be bought, sold, or owned by anyone.

Bullets may not be used as currency.

In Boston, it is illegal to eat peanuts in church.

Swearing is illegal inside city limits.

Children may smoke, but it is illegal for children to purchase their own cigarettes..


The 'War on Christmas': A History of the Holiday Season's Biggest Cultural Debate

The holiday season is here, and though many won't be spending time with loved ones, you can still expect to see lit trees in the windows, a slew of seasonal TV specials and people grumbling about the so-called "War on Christmas." Yes, even during a pandemic, Yuletide joy could still be overshadowed by the argument from some Christians that the push to be more inclusive&mdashby saying "Happy Holidays" and singing secular festive songs&mdashtramples on their religious freedom and threatens the values of what they feel is a Christian nation.

The debate has already been in full effect this year. Breitbart weighed in early after health officials recommended that people limit the size of Thanksgiving gatherings, warning that Democrats would want to "cancel Christmas." Meanwhile, Wisconsin's Democratic governor Tony Evers announced in November that "hope" would be the theme of his state's holiday celebrations, pointedly avoiding the word "Christmas," even after Republicans won a vote last year to call the state's originally planned "holiday tree" the "Capitol Christmas Tree."

One would not be entirely wrong in assuming that the concept of the "War on Christmas" began around the time that conservative figures started decrying political correctness. Bill O'Reilly is closely associated with the modern hubbub over "PC police" playing Grinch, and he was running broadcast segments on the subject more than 15 years ago. Now, Tucker Carlson and other Fox News hosts have taken over the role of "defending Christmas," and are saying that COVID-19 is being used as an excuse to not properly celebrate the holiday.

But while talking heads on television argue vociferously about the "War on Christmas," with many countering that it's an exaggerated if not outright invented controversy, there have been times in history when there were legitimate threats against&mdashand consequences for&mdashcommemorating the birth of Jesus. In fact, there have been periods when celebrating it was actually forbidden.

The first formal celebration of December 25 as Jesus' birthday was by the Roman Christians in 336 A.D., while Pope Julius I officially declared the day a nativity celebration around the year 350. In largely Christian nations, the holiday continued without much dispute&mdashthat is, until the rise of the Puritans in 17th-century England. Puritans considered feasts wasteful and unbiblical, and when devout Puritans took control of the English Parliament in 1647, they outlawed the celebration of Christmas. That ban lasted until King Charles II took the throne in 1660 and re-established the comparatively more festive Church of England.

Anti-Christmas sentiments were present on North American soil, too, though. The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony didn't bother recognizing the first Christmas in their new home&mdashthey opted to work in the fields rather than celebrate. As History.com notes, the Puritans took matters a step further in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by outlawing Christmas celebrations from 1659 to 1681, and anyone caught observing it with too much merriment faced a fine.

Even as its celebration became acceptable, Christmas was still not an official holiday in the U.S. for nearly a hundred years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. People were not given the day off from work and stores stayed open during this period. It wasn't until 1870 that President Ulysses S. Grant made Christmas a federal holiday.

Soon after Christmas gained the official holiday distinction, though, people began fearing that it was already in jeopardy. In the early 1920s, Henry Ford began publishing a newsweekly which contained writings now widely condemned as antisemitic. The idea of Christmas being attacked by Jewish Americans was a common theme. One polemic contained this unsubstantiated claim: "Last Christmas most people had a hard time finding Christmas cards that indicated in any way that Christmas commemorated Someone's Birth."

In 1959, the right-wing advocacy group John Birch Society took up the charge with the publication of its own pamphlet decrying the "assault on Christmas" carried out by the "Godless UN" and Communists within the U.S. The pamphlet claimed "fanatics" were attempting to "poison" the Christmas season, and pressuring department stores "to utilize UN symbols and emblems as Christmas decorations."

Christmas crusaders were similarly outraged by the growing prevalence of lawsuits filed by private citizens and organizations like the ACLU, which sought the removal of Christian symbols from public places during the holiday season. Over the years, Christmas songs and nativity imagery were also banned at various schools throughout the country. (The move to make public schools more secular began in the 1970s, following civil rights movements that resulted in more diversity among students and the Supreme Court's 1980 ruling that posting the Ten Commandments in public schools was unconstitutional.)

All of this brings us to what we currently know as the "War on Christmas." According to the fact-checking website Snopes.com, the phrase entered popular usage thanks to conservative author Peter Brimelow, who launched the website VDARE.com (named after Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas) in 1999. There, he frequently posted about the need to "save" Christmas from people pushing secularist "Happy Holidays" themes. A December 2000 post on his site contained what's believed to be the first instance of the words "War on Christmas."

However, the concept of the "War on Christmas" really took off with conservative broadcaster Bill O'Reilly. Brimelow published annual lists of what he called attacks on the holiday, and O'Reilly followed his lead by citing similar examples during his Fox News broadcasts.

On his influential O'Reilly Factor program, O'Reilly devoted segments to stories about Christmas trees being banned from public places and Catholic schools teaching students to say "Happy Holidays." Annually, he updated a "naughty" list of merchants who removed mentions of Christmas from their holiday displays, which even included heavyweight retailers like Sears, Kmart, Target and Walmart.

"Remember," O'Reilly said in 2004, "more than 90 percent of American homes celebrate Christmas. But the small minority that is trying to impose its will on the majority is so vicious, so dishonest&mdashand has to be dealt with."

"The Christians are coming to retake their place in the public square, and the most natural battleground in this war is Christmas," John Gibson, a former Fox News host, wrote in his 2005 book The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought. The popularity of Gibson's book, according to a 2016 article in Die New York Times, also contributed greatly to the backlash against the widespread usage of "Happy Holidays" over "Merry Christmas."

Meanwhile, Jon Stewart decided to take a stand against his right-wing counterparts. In 2005, Die Daily Show began airing segments stoking the debate, with the Jewish Stewart once mockingly declaring, "I, Jon Stewart, hate Christmas, Christians, Jews, morality."

The debate took place publicly mainly as a media talking point before formally entering the political stage. On a yearly basis, conservative pundits noted that President Barack Obama's holiday cards didn't contain the word "Christmas." But it was Obama's successor who made the so-called "War" a full-blown, political issue. Donald Trump pledged that he would make department stores say "Merry Christmas" when he first ran for president in 2016, and in the build-up to this year's election, he claimed that Joe Biden would take the word Christmas "out of the vocabulary." (Biden, a devout Catholic, never made any such comment.)

So, what's next for the "War on Christmas"? With more media than ever, including agenda-based websites and information that's passed along on Twitter, Facebook and even in short bursts via TikTok videos, the back-and-forth will likely persist, even as jingle bell-driven songs blare in every supermarket and Santa appears in commercials for everything from M&M's to Ford trucks. As deep political divisions continue, one could reasonably predict that the controversy will continue to surface for the foreseeable future.

But anyone upset by perceived threats against the holiday might want to keep in mind that the "War on Christmas" began before America was even a country.


Christmas is cancelled

In 1647, parliament had won the civil war in England, Scotland and Ireland and King Charles was held in captivity at Hampton Court. The Church of England had been abolished and replaced by a Presbyterian system.

Oliver Cromwell, the original Grinch who stole Christmas. Cromwell Museum, CC BY

The protestant reformation had restructured churches across the British Isles, and holy days, Christmas included, were abolished.

The usual festivities during the 12 days of Christmas (December 25 to January 5) were deemed unacceptable. Shops had to stay open throughout Christmastide, including Christmas Day. Displays of Christmas decorations – holly, ivy and other evergreens – were banned. Other traditions, such as feasting and the celebratory consumption of alcohol, consumed in large quantities then as now, were likewise restricted.

Christmas Day, however, didn’t pass quietly. People across England, Scotland and Ireland flouted the rules. In Norwich, the mayor had already been presented with a petition calling for a celebration of a traditional Christmas. He could not allow this publicly, but ignored illegal celebrations across the city.

In Canterbury, the usual Christmas football game was played and festive holly bushes were stood outside house doors. Over the 12 days of Christmas, the partying spread across all of Kent and armed force had to be used to break up the fun.

Christmas Day was celebrated in the very heart of Westminster and the churchwardens of St Margaret’s church (which is part of Westminster Abbey) were arrested for failing to stop the party. The London streets were decked with holly and ivy and the shops were closed. The mayor of London was verbally assaulted as he tried to rip down the Christmas decorations with the help of the city’s own battle-hardened veteran regiments.

Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk also celebrated Christmas rowdily. Young men armed with spiked clubs patrolled the streets persuading the shopkeepers to stay shut.

Taking up arms and breaking the rules weren’t just about experiencing the fun of the season. Fighting against the prohibition of Christmas was a political act. Things had changed and the Christmas rebellion was as much a protest against the “new normal” as it was against the banning of fun. People were fed up with a range of restrictions and financial difficulties that came with the Presbyterian system and the fallout of the civil war.


The Surprising Story of Christmas in the United States

T he custom of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is not exactly a new one for Christians around the world: the holiday is believed to date back to Dec. 25, 336 A.D., in Rome. But in the U.S., Christmas was not officially a federal day off from work or a break from mail delivery until 1870.

In fact, though the term may be used freely, Christmas isn’t really a “national” holiday in the U.S. rather, it is a federal holiday and a holiday in the states. Neither the President nor Congress exercises the power to declare a holiday that would apply to everyone in all of the states at once, the Congressional Research Service points out.

Still, that doesn’t mean the U.S. has historically been unenthusiastic about Christmas. The Puritans banned Christmas celebrations, but by the time the holiday was made a legal one in addition to a religious one, Americans were already a notably Christmas-celebrating group.

Several older, highly industrialized states declared Christmas a legal holiday in the mid-19th century. Massachusetts makes a good case study: with burnout rates skyrocketing during the Industrial Revolution, one state legislator argued that the lack of leisure time was literally killing workers. So, though Massachusetts had had a state-supported church until 1833 and it’s likely that many workers in the predominantly Christian society would have taken the day off anyway, the effort to pass the law came from commercial lobbies rather than religious groups.

“When that legislature declared Christmas to be a legal holiday, they included a proviso that, when Christmas happened to fall on a Sunday, the following Monday would become the legal holiday. They did the same thing with Washington&rsquos Birthday, which had never been a holiday before,” says Stephen Nissenbaum, author of The Battle for Christmas: A Social and Cultural History of Our Most Cherished Holiday. “Opposition to the bill focused on the Washington&rsquos Birthday provision, presumably because it was politically easier to attack.”

Finally, on June 28, 1870, toward the end of the legislative session, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into a bill designating Christmas a legal, unpaid holiday for federal employees in the District of Columbia.

The legislation also included holidays like the Fourth of July and New Year’s Day. Such holidays were later extended to federal employees outside of D.C., but a provision making sure they got paid on those days didn’t exist until 1938. According to congressional records, the 1870 law was instigated by area “bankers and business men” who wanted certain holidays to be formalized. Though it might have stood to reason that such a bill might provoke debate about hot-button issues like the separation of church and state, there was no notable debate on the bill in committee. (“One could argue that giving federal workers the day off, which is all the federal holiday does, does not ‘support’ any religion &mdash it doesn’t require anyone to do anything religious, it just says the office won’t be open,” says Douglas Ambrose, a professor of history at Hamilton College and an expert in Christianity in early American history.)

But some historians argue that Christmas in the U.S. isn’t really about any law at all.

Rather, the idea that Christmas is a national American holiday may have been a matter of the widespread appeal of certain practices that spread in the 19th century, such as writing Christmas cards, decorating Christmas trees &mdash a custom from Victorian England that was introduced to Americans by popular magazine Godey’s Lady Book &mdash and telling children about Santa Claus, who was depicted by the era’s famous political cartoonist Thomas Nast in Harper’s Weekly. Though some have theorized that the law was meant to unite North and South during the height of the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, the northern publishing houses that produced Christmas imagery and circulating the latest customs and traditions led the charge for the holiday, argues Penne L. Restad, author of Christmas in America: A History and a senior lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin.

While a day off from work was important, that wasn’t the only purpose of Christmas during that rapidly changing time. Christmas customs encouraged a sense of community and unity at a time when urbanization, industrialization and the memory of the recent Civil War had made many people feel more unsettled than ever, says Restad. Unsurprisingly, Thanksgiving’s place as a federal holiday dates to the same era. During that time, people across the nation sought to impose order on a confusing world, from time zones to department stores. One result of that effort was an expanding sense of what America meant.

“This idea of creating a nation becomes important,” Restad says.


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